Beki Brindle – All Kinds of Beki | Album Review

bekibrindlecdThe Beki Brindle Blues Band – All Kinds Of Beki

Random Chance Records

15 songs – 60 minutes

Beki Brindle has a blues résumé that many players can only dream of. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, she was lead guitarist for blues legend, Yank Rachell. Over the years, he has backed up many other greats, including Carey Bell, Johnny Mars, Tampa Red, Joe Lewis Walker and Fenton Robinson. In 2014, she was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame. If she has not come across your radar before, however, her new album, All Kinds Of Beki, is a fine introduction to her multi-faceted skills.

Kicking off with the political “Young Woman’s Blues”, Brindle reminds the listener of the challenges still faced by young women in today’s society: “Some men think they work hard to pay their dues, but they’ve never given birth to a child they could lose. Until they do and they’re forced to choose, they’ll never know nothing about a young woman’s blues.” Her band is top class, laying down an irresistible rhythm over which Brindle lays her guitar and warm, full-bodied voice.

Of the 15 songs on the album, Brindle co-wrote seven songs and Claudia Handler contributed three more. Brindle also covers John Mayall’s “Possessive Emotions” (which features lovely keys from Pete Levin), Sleepy John Estes’ “Floating Bridge”, John Sebastian’s “Darling Be Home Soon”, Little Walter’s “It Ain’t Right” and Matthew O’Dowd’s “God’s Guitar”.

Brindle essays a wide range of styles on All Kinds of Beki. There is the upbeat blues of “It Ain’t Right” and “No Return Blues”; the funk-blues of “I Don’t Want My Baby Back” and the Bonnie Raitt-esque blues-rock of “Young Woman’s Blues”. Acoustic guitars feature on a number of songs, including the REM-styled rock of “Johnny Never” and “It’s Over” with its beautiful Fleetwood Mac-styled harmonies. “Diving Duck Blues” combines Brindle’s modern electric stylings with John Sebastian’s more traditional hybrid mandi-guitar that itself recalls Yank Rachell’s own mandolin playing. Perhaps more left field, “Could I Be The Woman (And You Be The Man)”, could be an out-take from a 1980s Pat Benatar session, complete with compressed drums, synthesizer stabs and heavily over-driven guitars buried low in the mix. “New Shoelaces” features a guitar riff borrowed from ZZ Top’s “La Grange” (itself borrowed from Slim Harpo, of course). The song also includes patented ZZ Top tricks like sudden stops leading into mini drum breaks, key changes for the solos, and lyrics that sound suspiciously like sexual euphemisms: “Some women like a man with brand new clothes. A man who’s recognised everywhere he goes. A man who can take them to all those fancy places. My man’s got old shoes, but he’s got new shoelaces.”

One of the highlights of the album is Estes’ “Floating Bridge” with Brindle’s unsettling, discordant guitar riff and Sebastian’s poignantly restrained banjo perfectly matching the darkness in the lyrics.

Brindle is a fine guitar player but she also has a glorious voice, ranging from the dream-like melancholy of “It’s Over” to the grit of “It Ain’t Right”, and sounding particularly comfortable on the slower tracks like “Darling Be Home Soon” and “Johnny Never”. The songs on All Kinds of Beki are well-written, often displaying a rare lyrical wit (“Nothing To Wear” is hilarious) and are played with precision and emotional commitment. If there is a question mark about this album, it is in the sheer range of genres and styles. There is of course nothing wrong with giving a nod towards one’s influences. In this case, however, the listener is sometimes left wondering which one is the real Beki Brindle.

Overall, however, All Kinds of Beki is a highly enjoyable album of modern blues and blues-rock and a perfect soundtrack to a summer BBQ or party.

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